I’ve been helping my 5th grade daughter with her Maths homework recently, and have been reminded of the joy of algebra. Quite a few of her homework questions involve complicated sentences about Joe being 3 times older than Jerry but 3 years later he’s only 2 times older. With 5th grade maths you can only guess at the answer with trial and error, but with algebra you just write down the equations and solve them with no guessing at all! How good is that? Sadly, my daughter is not yet convinced.

**Update 20 Feb 2015**: Sadly I went through the same struggle with my youngest son, trying to convince him of the benefits of algebra – even to the point of having the maths mantra – “There’s the hard way, or there’s algebra.”

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